Jars of protein, vegetable shakes, so-called supplements evolution?
In this era of advanced technologies, it is wise to admit that nutrition has evolved a lot recently. Proteins are now found in jars, vitamins in pills and vegetables are blended into shakes. In the upcoming years it is evident that the supplement industry will keep changing. Hopefully for the consumers there will be benefits and this will not be all marketing hype. As consumers, we must ask ourselves the right questions.
Comparing with the past
You might remember the proteins fifteen years ago: white 5 pounds polypropylene jars with little color on the label. Manufacturers were obviously sharing some packaging suppliers, cutting down a bit in production costs. Nowadays, powder protein is available in jars and pouches of every size. Quickly taking a glance at suppliers I’ve ordered from in the past, quantities range from the quarter (1/4) dose to the 22 lb bag. Note a few sizes that we captured: 1, 2, 2.08, 3, 4.41, 5, 5.5, 5.75, 5.95, 6, 6.6, 6.85, 7.5, 8.8, 10, 12, 13.2, 15, 17 and 22 pounds and also from our metric systems friends 62, 280, 600, 680, 810, 840, 907, 910, 1030 grams. They come in every color of the rainbow also, even more. Clear, matte, semi-matte, you got the idea. What is the consumer benefit?
Added ingredients, added benefits?
The difference I personally prefer between the past and now is the ingredient addition. Let’s use whey protein for example. Users mainly use it to increase muscle growth, which is useful for many different personas. Bodybuilders want their muscle fibres to recover quicker leaner and/or bigger. Some gym users want to avoid being sore the day after. Tennis players want to recover faster to be able to go to the courts sooner. Now most whey protein brand gets various blends added for benefits, as captured on figure 1, showing labels below this paragraph. This is where it gets confusing: this blend might have a big downside for its user. i.e. Let’s say the blend added is different types of creatine, a tennis player would likely experience cramps. The questions stays the same, does the consumer benefits?
Figure 1 – Nutrition Facts then and now
The consumer is now king
Information now travels faster than anything so the days where the consumer masses were misinformed are over. Whether it is over Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, forums or blogs, threads of all kinds are being discussed at the immediate moment and timing is key. Consequently, people are less and less grouped by location but more and more brought together by common interests. The communities of consumers are screaming out loud their needs. The companies, including the supplements manufacturer must listen and deliver. No more zero benefit marketing hype!
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No. It is reasonable to state that significant performance effect related to creatine use is very unlikely. It could however depend on the overall shape of the individual. In case he does not enough strength and skills to comfortably hit the ball, creatine could help a bit.
There are some important potential side effects: Creatine greatly increases risk of cramping for most people. Dehydration is also a factor. Creatine users tend to need significantly higher amounts of water to stay properly hydrated.
Yes, it allows water and glycogen to flow into the muscle easily. This effect is also amplified when sugar is present in blood, different types of sugar (Dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose…) having more potency than others. This, along with weight training and over time, increases the size of major groups of muscles. Remember: bigger does not mean better, tennis player!
Is creatine banned from some countries or from tennis organisations?
Creatine major forms are neither considered an illegal nor doping substance. An interesting fact is that creatine was not allowed to be sold in France but it is the country where it was first isolated by a chemist. Creatine is naturally occurring in most meats, notably beef. However, food concentrations are far from specific supplements.
NCAA is generally one of the most strictly regulated tennis organisations. Rumours say that distribution of creatine was banned its distribution by colleges.
That’s it, player
To conclude, I don’t recommend my fellow tennis players to even think about using creatine. Simply: because it is not efficient. However, something your coaches and I will keep enforcing towards any athlete is the following: Always stay tuned on the anti-doping lists your organisation.
The average sugar intake of American adults is a shocking 22 teaspoons per day. Do you know how you personally compare to that number? You have to know: this is about triple of what healthy living suggests.
Stevia being a sweetener, you can use it to replace sugar in: plain yogurt, bakery, on fruits and wherever you have to ability to replace sugar.
What Stevia is
Stevia generally stands for the specie Stevia rebaudiana, also called “sweetleaf” or “sugarleaf”. This plant can be between 20 to 45 inches tall and even bigger. It is mostly cultivated for its extracts, being well-known to contain 0 calories but more than 250 times the regular sugar sweetness. However, studies also show that other molecules within Stevia (rebaudioside A, steviol and isosteviol) also have good effects on health. They apparently regulate sugar level on blood, vascular tension, digestive and urinary systems (anti-diarrheal and diuretic) and also reduce inflammation (like Tylenol or Advil) and improve the body’s defense system. This is good to know especially if you’re diabetic, hardcore dieter or food product developer.
What Stevia is not
Stevia is not an articifial sweetener. It is also not a miracle as-seen-on-TV product.
Do you play tennis sitting down? Or lying on a workout bench? Or while on an elliptical trainer? Of course not. You play tennis on your feet, moving with explosive speed across the court, stopping and starting, twisting your trunk to reach the shot, crouching and jumping, a blur of movement in space. To master your movement through three dimensions you need to train in three dimensions, using resistance and movement that strengthens your core and develops your ability to start and stop at any moment, to get to the ball, and to last through a vigorous match.
You can be gym fit—like most tennis players. Or you can be tennis fit—like the tennis champions. In these columns I’ll show you how to develop your tennis fitness and train to improve your game, your explosive strength, and your coordination.
I used to train using common gym routines and machines. And I got all the side effects that come with that kind of training—soreness, joint aches, and stiffness. I was “weight-room strong”—gym fit—but I realized that I needed to redefine what fitness meant for me. I wanted functional strength, balance, coordination, speed, power, and the ability to move in any direction. I wanted to improve the movement and performance that makes me a tennis athlete, not just a bodybuilder. I wanted real tennis fitness. And so I decided to train with bands. Within eight weeks I was seeing amazing results: my speed and quickness were at a new level and I had no more back, shoulder, or hip pain. I haven’t stopped training with bands since.
Next time you’re at your gym, look around: you probably see people doing hundreds of sit-ups, plus crunches, cable pull-downs, and the infamous crunch twist. Do they know what that is doing to their spines? Watch someone do a crunch or sit-up: all they are doing is flexing the spine. Here is the functional and physiological result:
-Tenfold increase in disc pressure
-Extremely tight hips
And these add up to back pain.
The role of the abs as part of the kinetic chain is to protect the lower back from moving too far when arms and legs start flying. Powerful abs—your core—can keep your center of gravity (belly button) directly over your base of support (feet). On the court I often see players who cannot control their center of gravity. When they have to make a quick change of direction their upper body momentum goes too far. The result is inconsistent tennis, and, soon, lower-back problems.
The abs are stabilizers, not movers, and you must train your core from a standing position to keep you stable during quick, unpredictable movement. This is how we play and live.
You may like to go out for a 20-30 minute run—one or two miles. Think about what is happening to your body when you do this and the effects it might have on your game:
-The normal one-mile jog burns about 150 calories.
-It takes approximately 1500-2000 steps to complete.
-It creates ground reaction forces 4-6 times your body weight.
If you weigh 150 pounds and run for 15 minutes, that is at least 600 lbs of pressure going through your knees, hips, ankles, and lower back. Multiply that by 1500 steps: that’s a lot of joint stress.
Why beat up your joints jogging when you can accomplish twice as much with 90% less stress to your joints? Playing tennis causes plenty of wear and tear—you don’t need to add to that stress unnecessarily.
Tennis is a three-step game with a quick change of direction—and winning play is all about that first step. It’s chaotic movement (not just running): you never know which direction you’ll move. To get to the ball you may shuffle, crossover, or use a straight three-step run. You don’t move on the court like your fitness jog, standing tall and moving in a straight line. On the court you are always in an athletic stance and ready to move in any direction. Tennis is explosive movement, entirely different from your five-mile run. Cut out that morning jog and save your knees, back, and hips, and you will play tennis for a lifetime.
Tennis is all about rotation, yet few players train for it. There’s a difference between rotation and twisting: twisting is rotation without using your whole body, especially your hips. Twisting can crush your lower back and knees, but true rotation will not.
Explosive power comes from our ability to rotate. Exercise that effectively develops our rotational ability is always from a standing or running position, never lying or sitting.
Working with bands is ideal for developing rotational strength—when you rotate your trunk using band resistance you work not just your abs but also the many stabilizing muscles throughout your core. Those are the muscles that help you control your fast, chaotic motion on the court and the controlled, explosive rotation of your powerful serve. Without rotational strength throughout your core you cannot control your shot, and you are setting yourself up for injury.
Big biceps and six-pack abs look great, but they don’t guarantee great tennis. If you’re gym strong, and not tennis strong—well, maybe you should be a body builder and give up tennis.
Here’s the reason bench presses and crunches don’t do much for your game: great tennis isn’t just about an explosive start to your run—it’s about a quick, controlled stop or turn on the court as well. Your neuromuscular system must react to the momentum generated by your explosive three-step run across the court, for a stop or turn that sets you up for the next shot.
Bands are ideal for momentum training. Running forward against the band’ resistance you learn the explosive first step; running backward or sideways under resistance you learn controlled slowing and stopping. And remember that controlling your momentum isn’t just a matter of strong quads and hamstrings—a controlled turn or stop at speed requires the stabilizing muscles of the core as well.
Howard Waldstreicheris the founder and creator of HalfHourPower. He helps train the Bryan Brother’s and Melanie Oudin on their explosive power. For more great workouts visit www.halfhourpower.com